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European Integration After AmsterdamInstitutional Dynamics and Prospects for Democracy$
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Karlheinz Neunreither and Antje Wiener

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198296409

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198296401.001.0001

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The European Commission: A Balancing Act Between Autonomy and Dependence

The European Commission: A Balancing Act Between Autonomy and Dependence

Chapter:
(p.36) 3 The European Commission: A Balancing Act Between Autonomy and Dependence
Source:
European Integration After Amsterdam
Author(s):

Christian Lequesne

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198296401.003.0003

Political science studies of European policy usually stress two characteristics: First, they are monographic and empirical, and second, they go beyond a state‐centric approach to European integration. Among the new research tracks, there has been a revisiting of the European Commission, which is no longer viewed as an institutional monolith, but rather as a complex multi‐organization. This chapter adopts an institutional approach and looks at the Commission from the inside without developing any particular case study. It first shows how EU Commission agents can mobilize specific resources to behave as ‘policy entrepreneurs’ in the EU polity with a certain degree of autonomy from the national governments. Second, it defends the autonomy argument by arguing that this policy entrepreneurship is also constrained by endogenous and exogenous factors that make the Commission dependent on the national governments in the EU polity. This balancing act between autonomy and dependence is considered to be the main characteristic of the European Commission. It is also an invitation to look at supranational institutions by linking two analytical perspectives. On the one hand, supranational institutions are the creation of national governments in order to facilitate their interests and bargaining. On the other hand, supranational institutions are also the products of their organizational dynamics.

Keywords:   bargaining, European Commission, European integration, European policy, European Union, interests, multi‐organization, national government, policy entrepreneurship, supranational institutions

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